By Wang Zhuoqiong (China Daily) -- 2010-06-18
BEIJING - China's Southern Daily Group's recent attempt to acquire Newsweek magazine - the country's first bid for a Western publication - has failed, but the bidder is expecting to make other similar purchases, the publication's senior management said on Thursday.
"The offer to Newsweek is a volunteer action of Chinese media professionals and investors," said Xiang Xi, managing editor of Southern Weekly, a weekly owned by the Group, who was granted an exclusive interview with President Obama during his visit to Beijing last November.
"With nine-language versions, Newsweek's platform with global communication resources and influence is in line with our pursuits."
The head of China's most influential weekly denied any government involvement in the investments behind the bid for the Washington Post-owned news weekly.
Xiang said the Group partnered B-raymedia, a Shanghai-listed company based in Chengdu of Southwest China's Sichuan province that owns several metropolis papers, and two other investment funds in the purchase attempt.
Secretary to the board of directors of B-raymedia surnamed Zhang told China Daily that the business talks involving bidding for overseas media have a long way to go.
"It is like dating," Zhang said, "it doesn't matter if one date does not like you. You grow from it."
About 70 bidders are interested in acquiring the current affairs weekly. Newsweek, which has been engaged in a fierce decades-long rivalry with Time magazine, lost more than $28 million last year and advertising revenue dropped 37 percent.
"No information is going to be released until the transaction is completed," Post spokeswoman Rima Calderon told AFP.
Xiang said the money is not what is keeping the Chinese bidder outside of the door.
"They don't really understand Chinese media people," he said. "They are not sure of why we are bidding. But I understand it is easier for a US media to take over the operation."
The tagline of Southern Weekly - described by the New York Times as "China's most influential liberal newspaper" - is "to understand China".
Xiang said the move is for the world to have a better understanding of China, and for China to know more of the world.
The attempt to buy Newsweek is a beginning, said the 38-year-old, adding that they are "seeking to round up investors to bid on other media abroad."
"The move is an encouraging trend for China's going-out strategy," said Yu Guoming, vice-president of the journalism school at the Beijing-based Renmin University of China. "The strategy has, for a long time, focused on overseas expansion of Chinese media."
The global impact of China's conventional media that speaks and thinks on Chinese logic has been questioned, he said.
"No matter if the media organization is State or privately owned, the Western stereotype always views it as a propaganda vehicle," Yu said. "But it could be changed if Chinese media understand and play with the West's rules."
"The investment in Western media is our first step to get involved," he said, "then the two sides can talk and know each other."